Turning around their lives for the better


In Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, the Bharatiya Mahila Self Help Group is scripting a new story for themselves which is a major departure from the lives they once led. Comprising nine women—all of who are daily wage earners—they were trained by WaterAid to make cleaning products, which they now make on their own and sell, earning a decent profit that has helped improve the quality of their lives.

turning lives

That they would become entrepreneurs one day was a thought that had never crossed the minds of the women in the Self-Help Group. So when WaterAid told them about the training, they were initially hesitant, doubting whether it would actually make a difference in their lives.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

With the initial supply of raw materials from WaterAid, the women began making different cleaning products like floor cleaners, hand wash, etc. These were then sold in local shops. As time passed by, the Self-Help Group formed linkages with hospitals, colleges, and other institutions to sell their products.

An important factor here is that with WaterAid spreading awareness on the importance of hygiene to their health, people in the community have become more proactive in doing what they can to ensure clean surroundings. This, the Self Help Group members said, has helped the sale of their products.

“The total cost of production of one litre of cleaner—including labor and transport—is INR 39 and we sell it for INR 45,” one of the Self Help Group members said, “Each day we sell about 350-400 litres of the product and earn a profit of INR 2000.” Added to what they earn as daily wage earners, this entrepreneurship model is helping women earn about INR 12,000 per month.

“Earlier we would go individually to source the raw materials. It would be a bike ride of 100 km. Travelling in the heat was very difficult and it was a tedious process. But when we decided to do the business as a group, sourcing the raw material in bulk became easier. We save money and effort,” another member added.

With a raised earning capacity, the women’s confidence level has got a major boost as well. They can contribute towards household expenditures and very importantly to themselves which was not always possible earlier. They have a say in their household decisions. “This business, Sani entrepreneurship, has changed our lives,” the members said.